The United Arab Emirates is a country composed of seven emirates, the most popular of which are Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, if you are looking for hidden gems in the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah is surely one of the strongest contenders. Located on the northernmost tip of the UAE, RAK is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and elegance. There is no lack of gorgeous coastlines, beautiful beaches, splendid desert planes and breathtaking landscapes here. This is also a place with many archaeological sites, since its history goes back 7000 years. So, one day in Ras Al Khaimah will surely be an interesting one.
Guest post by Pranitaa Purohit
What is the best time to visit Ras Al Khaimah?
The best time to visit Ras Al Khaimah, undoubtedly, is between the months of November and February. Ras Al Khaimah, like Abu Dhabi and other cities in the country, has a warm climate, and the temperature goes above 45oC in the summer months (between June and August). It is best to avoid the city during this period, although the prices of hotels, attractions and flight tickets will be comparatively lower during this time of year. However, the climate is too harsh to indulge in any outdoor activity or sightseeing.
On the other hand, winters are cool and you will find several interesting events and festivals during these months. One of the most popular festivals held in December is the Awafi Festival, which celebrates cultural and social heritage for three weeks. However, winter means peak season around here, so you must make your bookings in advance to avoid cancelling your trip due to lack of availability.
The spring season (months between March to May) is also pleasant and offers you the chance to enjoy the RAK Fine Arts Festival (March), where you can watch award-winning films as well as beautiful art. Another popular time to visit RAK is the autumn season (between September and November), when the temperature starts to decline. However, Ramadan falls during this time of the year, so you will find that several tourist attractions are closed during the 40 days. Also, you will not be able to eat or drink in public till sunset during Ramadan. Therefore, you should plan your trip with these things in mind.
A few facts about Ras Al Khaimah
Before you check out the one day itinerary for Ras Al Khaimah, here are a few facts about the Emirate city that you may find interesting.
- RAK is one of the most traditional emirates in the UAE. This is because 40% of the population are the Emiratis. Hence, it is important to be more aware of the cultural norms and traditions of the Emiratis.
- As mentioned earlier, the history of RAK goes back more than 7000 years. It has been found that life has existed in RAK since the Bronze Age. There are several archaeological excavations in the area to prove this.
- RAK has 62 km of coastline with some of the best beaches in the world. Apart from the clear blue waters, you will also be able to enjoy different water sports including scuba diving and snorkelling here.
- You would find the highest mountain in the UAE at RAK, the Jebel Jais. It is a popular location for mountain biking and ziplining.
- Ras Al Khaimah means ‘top of the tent’ in Arabic, referring to its location at the northernmost part of the country.
One Day in Ras Al Khaimah Itinerary
Although RAK may not be as glamorous as Dubai, it has loads of Old World charm. Also, it is less crowded and touristy, giving you a chance to spend some quiet and peaceful days away from the crowd and humdrum of the city of Dubai. While there is no lack of places to see in RAK, here is an itinerary for the things that you can do in RAK in one day. Before we start, it is important to know that when it comes to public transportation in RAK, you have to rely heavily on cabs as there are no metros and the bus service is pretty limited. However, the cabs are inexpensive and readily available. Nevertheless, if you still want to save time, you can also hire a private vehicle for all the sightseeing.
Jebel Jais Via Ferrata
Start your day amidst the beautiful nature of the emirate with a trip to Jebel Jais. One thing to look forward to here is the Via Ferrata, which includes climbing, canyoning and ziplining. There are several viewing platforms along the 20 km route where you can stop for a breather and enjoy the panoramic views. If you love outdoors and nature, you will absolutely enjoy visiting this place.
Ras Al Khaimah National Museum
The Ras Al Khaimah National Museum is the perfect place to learn about the history of this emirate. It is located inside a fort which also served as the residence of the ruling family untill the early 1960s. Here you will find traditional weapons, historical documents and manuscripts as well as archaeological displays of the early settlers in the area. You will also be able to get a glimpse of traditional Emirati life in the ethnographic section of the museum.
Al Fanar Restaurant and Cafe
A quick break for lunch is expected after exploring the interesting museum. Although you will find several restaurants that serve everything from Indian to Chinese cuisines, it’s probably a good idea to go for a restaurant that serves Emirati cuisine – Al Fanar is definitely the best location for that. While the food is delicious, the other thing that attracts people here is the ambience of the place. Have a delicious lunch and drink a refreshing drink before you take off for the next destination.
Jazirat Al Hamra
Another heritage site in Ras Al Khaimah is Jazirat Al Hamra, which is an abandoned fishing village. Although a ghost town, you will be able to see the traditional coral-block buildings of the past at this village. You will also be able to glimpse at the life of people before the oil boom, when the main occupations here were fishing and pearl diving. It is a picturesque place, so do not forget to take your camera with you.
Another important historical place in RAK is the Dhayah Fort, which was built in the 16th century. Made of mud-brick, the fort is perched on a hill and it defended the city against the attack of the British. While exploring the fort itself is interesting, the view from the top is also breathtaking and something you should not miss.
Ras Al Khaimah Beach
At the end of the day, after visiting museums, forts and old ruins, you will want to rest your tired legs and relax. The best way to do that is to visit Ras Al Khaimah Beach where you can lounge comfortably and watch a splendid sunset. There are numerous hotels, cafes and restaurants along the beach where you can get drinks and refreshments. If you are up to it, you can also indulge in some water sports like jet skiing and kayaking.
Your day need not end with the sunset. You may think that RAK is a sleepy town with nothing to see or do after it gets dark. However, this is completely untrue. In fact, the city has a great nightlife with several bars, pubs and nightclubs to keep you entertained. Crazy Horse Bar, Rio Beach Bar, Broadwalk, Scirocco, White Bar, Anchor Bar, etc. are some great places to enjoy the nightlife of Ras Al Khaimah.
Where to stay in Ras Al Khaimah?
Ras Al Khaimah has everything from luxurious to mid-range hotels that you can choose depending on your requirements and budget. Some of the best hotels to stay in this city are The Ritz-Carlton at Al Hamra Beach, Waldorf Astoria and DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa.
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach
Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah
DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island
If you are looking for mid-range or budget hotels, some of the best options are definitely Great Wall Hotel, Bin Majid Beac Hotel, SH Hotel and OYO 141.
Bin Majid Beach Hotel
OYO 141 Ras Al Khaimah Hotel
Day Trips from Ras Al Khaimah
If you are in Ras Al Khaimah for a few days and want to see something more than the city, there are many day trips that you can take to the nearby Emirates.
Desert Safari in Dubai
There are several tour companies that offer desert safari in Dubai from Ras Al Khaimah. You will not only be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the desert but also indulge in adventure, entertainment and good food.
Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi
If you are a fan of F1 racing, you must visit Ferrari World, a theme park dedicated to Formula 1. Along with the various thrilling rides, you will also be able to ride the fastest roller coaster in the world, the Formula Rossa.
Mussandam Dibba Tour
The Mussandam Dibba tour will take you to the border of the Gulf of Oman, amidst the Hajjar Mountains. Spend a day at leisure by enjoying a relaxing dhow cruise, indulging in snorkelling and tucking in a delicious lunch.
Extra Tips for visiting Ras Al Khaimah
Before signing off, here are some additional tips that can make your trip to Ras Al Khaimah smooth sailing.
- It is important to carry comfortable, cotton clothes as the days are warm throughout the year. However, make sure that you dress modestly as a respect to the beliefs and traditions of the locals.
- If you are in RAK during Ramadan, refrain from eating or drinking in public before sunset.
- PDA is a complete no-no anywhere in UAE. You must avoid public display of affection of any kind if you do not want to be arrested or deported.
With so much information about Ras Al Khaimah, it is time to get your UAE tourist visa, book your tickets and visit this beautiful city of the UAE soon.
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